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Who needs a Business Analyst anymore?

Is it time to kill off the role of the Business Analyst? - by Mark Waddilove, Feb 28, 2019
BA evolution
In order to answer this we need to roll back the delivery clock and understand why we had them in the first place, here's my story...
20 years ago I moved into delivering business type projects (ecommerce). As normal I would start to put together the team that had the skills to deliver. It soon became obvious that I needed more representation within the project from the business side to deliver a successful outcome.

But in the Beginning...
So what did we do before we had BAs?
The Dark Ages
70s developerThe Software Developer
Back in the dark days we just decided to write software based on a very short brief from the business. Don't be silly! Why do we need to talk to users (the business people!)
Talk to users + Build software + Handover to users = Oops that didn't work
The Renaissance Period
80s system analyst The Systems Analyst
Ok now we're starting to understand things a bit better, becoming more creative with our solutions, improving the outputs. Using a software developer who you actually trust to talk to the users and could also do some design.
Talk to users + Write requirements + Discuss with Developer + Hand over to users = Oops that still didn't work either
The Industrial Revolution
90s Business AnalystThe Business Analyst
So, it may look good and technically work but it doesn't solve the business problem. What we needed was an analyst who could understand the users and talk in their language but could also talk to the developers.
Talk to users + Write requirements + Document processes + Talk to technical teams + Hand over to users = Better
But what the users wanted has changed since they initially gave their requirements. So we needed to do things quicker!
The Digital Revolution
00s Product OwnerThe Change Lead/Product Owner
The traditional waterfall method was too slow and too constraining for the digital age. Not surprisingly, working out what you wanted right at the start and expecting it to be exactly what you needed when it was delivered was optimistic at best.
So along came "Agile" which brought users directly into the delivery team, putting the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons for traditional technical delivery teams. With the technical members of the team working closely alongside the business users, we no longer needed the traditional BA role to bridge the gap between both teams.
The here and now
So the evolution of the Business Analyst role reflects Agile principles in action, reviewing what works well and seeking continuous improvement, the role has evolved in line with the needs of the business and users.
So, what we are finding now is that BAs are now taking on the Product Owner role, that's good isn't it? Yes, but they need to think more product mindset and less of the process mindset.
The Future
What does this mean for the Business Analyst of the future? Well the role that's required of them is now bigger, wider and arguably even more critical today. The traditional role has now been replaced by the Product Owner, Business Architect or Change Lead, all using the critical skills of a BA - communication, attention to detail and understanding your users and their business.
... and finally, don't forget the key skill needed in any Agile team is flexibility, you perform what's needed by the team to deliver. So don't worry about the title, roll up your sleeves and get on with it - be an Agile team!
agile team
It can be very daunting for teams to change, Streamline has lived that journey so understands the pitfalls and opportunities agile delivery can bring. If you need help with your business transformation or just help introducing an agile way of working, contact us and we can get your project running like a business project not an IT one!

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